School of Civil Engineering

Mentor: David Williams

Project Team: Adrian Chau, Amelia Tenaglia

Project Brief

A successful 2010 UQ grant of $200,000 enabled the critical purchase of almost 100 sensors and their installation in the AEB. Sensors include groundwater pressure sensors, strain gauges, fibre optic gauges for strain and temperature, load cells, accelerometers and displacement transducers. They are in addition to the sensors installed to monitor the temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, and the building’s energy and water use. 

The Live Building Project aims to test the response of the Advanced Engineering Building (AEB) to its operation and to the sub-tropical climate in which The University of Queensland (UQ) is situated. The knowledge gained from the AEB Live Building Project will impact on the design, construction and operation of many future buildings in sub-tropical climates, and the student experiences of the Live Building will be taken with them into their careers as Professional Engineers and Architects. 

Strain-gauging main columns

Strain gauge and fibre optic gauges

Project Report

To allow the Advanced Engineering Building to operate as a ‘Live’ building in order to maintain optimum temperature and humidity, data has been collected from the 5/3/16 until 14/4/16. In addition to the general temperature and humidity of the AEB, data has also been collected in the atrium and the labyrinth. This period is just over a month within autumn conditions and hence can only draw accurate conclusions about this timeframe. 

A statistical analysis has been conducted on the different data gathered. The temperature and humidity of each area of the AEB has been analysed in terms maximum, minimum and average values per day over the testing period. The minimum and maximum days have also been analysed. The areas which were considered when analysing the data were the AEB as a whole, in order to establish an understanding of the entire building, the atrium, as this is where most human activity occurs, and the labyrinth ,to analyse one of the building’s cooling methods which utilises concrete pillars to maintain a cool temperature. The analysis also considered the times of day when change in temperature and humidity would have the largest impact, such as due to the volume of people using the building at various times throughout the day.

The AEB data follows similar trends each day; for temperature, from midnight to approximately 6:30am the AEB experiences its coldest moments of around 18-23ºC with a steady incline to its hottest temperatures of the day, around 24-29ºC, between 10:00am to 5:30pm. As for humidity, from midnight to 7am is when the humidity is at its highest, ranging from 70 to 90% depending on the day. Lowest humidity however occurs from 9am-4pm and ranges from 30-60% also depending on the day. Throughout the testing period, the AEB experiences an average temperature of 24.17ºC and 67.07% relative humidity.

Over the testing period, the AEB has an average maximum temperature and absolute maximum temperature of 29.3 and 33.3ºC respectively, and an average minimum and an absolute minimum of 20.4 and 18.1ºC respectively. For humidity, it has an average maximum and absolute maximum of 83.4 and 88.8 % respectively, and an average minimum and absolute minimum of 44.0 and 29.8 % respectively.

From the analysis, the ideal time to cool the AEB is between 10:00am and 5:50pm when it becomes overly hot whilst the ideal time to heat would be from midnight to 6:30am. However, cooling is more easily accomplished due to the labyrinth allowing the trapping of cool night air to be used to cool the AEB during the day as well as the operation of windows and louvers to open and close, allowing the outer cool air to be controlled and let in when needed. When considering that there will not be very many people utilizing the AEB before dawn, heating the AEB may be considered as unnecessary; cooling on the other hand would be ideal for the large number of people present in the AEB during the peak times of the day (10am to 5.30pm). Ideally temperature in Brisbane should be around 24ºC while humidity around 45%. As the current average maximum temperature is about 29ºC, significant cooling should be applied to the AEB during the day.

Overall, the project is still in need of continuation as there was minimal data available to analyse. Should a longer testing period have occurred such as across an entire year, more accurate conclusions including specific temperatures and humidity for the cooling system to activate could be deduced as well as energy use of air conditioners and ideal times they should be turned on or off in different seasons.